The Three Fundamental Deceits about Calderstones Park


Some of the 300 respectable ladies and gents who were described as a screaming mob when they dared to protest about the Mayor’s plans to build on part of Calderstones Park

Today the council’s planning committee met to consider the development of part of Calderstones Park by Redrow. As expected the planning committee gave its consent. As predicted the committee voted for the application by 5 votes to 1 with only the one Lib Dem, Cllr Malcolm Kelly voting against. All your Lib Dem councillors spoke in the debate and made the same points as 23 other objectors.

300 demonstrators turned out at the site meeting. Later they were described as a screaming, howling mob by Labour councillor Tony Concepcion. When a Labour member pointed out that he was both a Labour member and a professional urban design consultant and was appalled by what he saw he was told not be political! 60 demonstrators came to the Town Hall and most of them stayed to the bitter end. Most of them were not impressed by their first contact with what passes for democracy in the Town Hall!!

This decision not only will have major effects on Calderstones Park but will also very much weaken the council’s case regarding Allerton Priory. This application is in the same green wedge that Caldies is in. The cynical would say that this was always the council’s plan. Pretend to support residents in Allerton in the full knowledge that Redrow would get their way when the council gave permission at the other end of the green wedge. I cannot work out whether or not the Labour councillors for Allerton are cynical or totally ill informed. I’ll leave judgement on both matters to you!

There were three things that are quite clear from any objective review of the facts:

  1. This is parkland.

It was bought as an addition to the Calderstones Park in 1913

It was officially opened as part of the park in 10914

Had a depot, which is part of the application, which was the Park’s depot and is entirely surrounded by the Park (incidentally it was where the council’s world famous orchid collection was housed until Militant destroyed it)

Most of the site has had free access by the public since 1914

The model railway is described by the council’s own website as being in Calderstones Park

The council has recognised the Friends of Harthill & Calderstones Park for 38 years

There was one maintenance contract for the whole of the Park including the application sites

Redrow know this because I was able to talk about documents that they have submitted to the council where they labelled the depot as being in Calderstones Park. They asked the council to put up notices to say this was private land to prevent a village green application on the site. Of course the council did not do this and a village green application is already in.

But more importantly than all that there is the feeling of local people. They have always described that area as being part of the Park. They have used it as part of the park. They have taken part in activities on all three venues on the site which have been run in the interests of the community and not for personal or commercial profit.

  1. This development is dangerous because of huge traffic problems

The head teacher of Calderstones School is so concerned about the dangers of traffic that he has written to 1,500 parents expressing his concerns.

Cllr Nick Small, the Assistant Mayor is concerned. 18 months ago the 3 Church Ward councillors were summoned to site meetings with him to look at the dangers to Calderstones students. As a result of that junction improvements were made. The two major junctions on Menlove Avenue and Mather Avenue where school traffic enters the main system have been identified as priority junctions but of such a scale that no progress in making the major changes needed is possible in the short to medium terms at either of them.

Residents are concerned. Narrow pavements often partly covered by parked cars cause them to walk in the road on a dangerous blind curve on a daily basis.

At school going in and going out times these roads are dreadful. The worst that I have seen in the city and this application will add to the difficulties. A video was presented which showed just how bad the traffic was at chucking out time on 25th January. To say that the area is not already exteremely dangerous is ludicrous. The concerns of the Head of Caldies for his 1,450 students was totally ignored.

  1. The people of this area don’t care

Mayor Anderson said in the Liverpool Echo last week that the opposition was from Greens, Lib Dems and a handful of objectors. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a huge anger in the whole of South Liverpool about the way that this park and Sefton Park are being treated. 250 people packed a public meeting last autumn. Not one Labour councillor attended it so how could they know what local people said?

In recent weeks we have visited hundreds of homes not only in Church Ward but also Allerton and Woolton wards which also fringe the Park. We met a handful of people who though this was a good idea; a handful of people who were prepared to tolerate it and at a conservative estimate 90% of the people were totally opposed to it.

  1. These are not the only objections to the application.

Objections were made by qualified members of the public about:

  • Ecology
  • Wildlife
  • Heritage
  • Design standards
  • Impact on the Park
  1. What next?

That leads us inexorably to what happens now. Normally when a planning application is lost that is the end of the matter BUT NOT IN THIS CASE. The fact is that this application can still be blocked because the council is the land owner.

The council has farcically told the residents that it will conduct a master planning exercise once the planning application has been agreed!

We believe that there are grounds for a judicial review of the way the council has handled the matter.

We know that the removal of Beechley; the model railway and Calder Kids is proving to be much more expensive than anticipated

We know that the planning applications for Beechley and the model railway will involve the enclosure of public open space in Calderstones Park and Clark Gardens.

  1. What is a park?

We will continue to defend Calderstones Park in its entirety. Parks are too precious to lose. Liverpool has one of the lowest levels of parkland of any major urban city in England. Parks are good for mental health and for physical health. They trees and bushes mop up CO2 in the atmosphere and make our air healthier. They encourage us to exercise. They get us out of our houses to meet people.

These thing are too important to be lost on the arrogant whim of one man and one Party. My political Party and the community around the Park will continue the fight and will do our utmost to ensure that this land is retained for future generations and that Redrow, who themselves are contributors to Joe Anderson’s re-election campaign don’t make a penny piece from this brutal attack on Liverpool’s heritage.

I warned Redrow at the committee today that they might have won a battle but they have not won the war. We continue to fight against the bland and boring pastiche of 1950s suburbia that is a typical Redrow estate. We will continue to battle for a good environment for our people and we will be backed by our screaming mob!!


About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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4 Responses to The Three Fundamental Deceits about Calderstones Park

  1. nigel hunter says:

    Parks are a right for people to enjoy and have been for many a year. Are we going to be forced to use expensive gyms or just run round the streets for the benefit of Redrow making a profit on houses that we will not be able to afford to live in?

  2. The Childwall Kid says:

    If the people won’t be listened to now, I hope they send a message back to the Labour run administration when ward elections are next held in May 2018.

  3. Barbara Edwards says:

    I have voted labour all my life but after this Joe never again. I was one of the ‘screaming mob’. I can assure everyone the slur on the people of Liverpool who joined me in the morning were certainly not worthy of such comments by a member of your committee.

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